Choose people. Not statues.
Editor’s Letter: The Opportunity Is Now
Featured image: Art by Macon artist Cedric Smith
Grief. Our black sisters and brothers know it all too well. And our Confederate monuments* only intensify the racism that is tearing apart our country.
“(Removing the monuments) will mean that someone else cares for us. … I think black people locally would believe that we have some true allies,” said one black brother of mine.
So many good and vital reflections come from these friends:
“It means I’m actually welcomed … and even given our history of segregation we acknowledge the unfortunate history of this country. … It means that my fellow allies respect me enough to not let others visiting think we think less of our black community to subject them to such memories. We deserve statues that honor our unity moments.”
“Having them there stops you from even imagining what’s possible.”
“It would symbolize that our community is ready to turn the page in our city’s history book. The removal of a statue doesn’t necessarily change the hearts of people, but it is a start to spark conversation, which leads to a genuine cultural shift.”
“A statue in the middle of downtown celebrating a side that was opposed to basic human rights is a sign. … The statue being gone would be the first step of many to show that the important people of Macon stand with the people of color also.”
“I think they are reminders of the way many people still wish that all whites were superior.”
“We can’t change history, but we can make for a brighter, safer and productive tomorrow for people of all creeds, colors and diversity of backgrounds.”
“It’s like allowing a tumor to stay in your body hoping it doesn’t become malignant.”
“They are symbols of hate. … But I am much more concerned with the reality of racism that my friends and family deal with every day.”
“Together is the only way.”
We can be better allies for the people of our community and world – and we must. To allow these Confederate statues to hold space on a pedestal is akin to placing enslavement, degradation and death on a pedestal to our black population.
This is a history we should not try to forget (not that we could), nor should we place it on a pedestal. The monuments can be moved to a public space and replaced with something that is actually welcoming to all.
We can create a new path of unity with our actions of advocacy. Centuries-old wounds are still raw because they were never healed.
Cities all over the South are making the right choice.
The soul of Macon is rooted in our people, not in our statues of the Civil War.
“Love is the cure for this pandemic. It is not easy to live an unselfish life,” Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry said during a virtual sermon broadcast from the National Cathedral, which I listened toMay 31. I think Bishop Curry was speaking to the racism in our country – and that is the seemingly never-ending pandemic here.
I have given up the idea that life should be easy. But, it should be loving.
Macon, we need to make amends. Let us not miss this opportunity. We know better. So, we must do better.
The removal would be a nod to an original Good-Doer, Little Richard. Rest in peace and power, Architect of Rock ‘n’ Roll. We remain hopeful as we read and share the stories you will find in this, The Good-Doers Issue. We share stories of COVID-19 good-doers, helpers and heroes, thanks to a long-standing relationship with The Peyton Anderson Foundation. Generous Macon benefactor Peyton T. Anderson, Jr. lived by the virtue: Reward good-doers, instead of do-gooders.
I hope you also are asking the questions that lead to answers and action for anti-racism. Macon Magazine acknowledges that we can do more to amplify black voices. We stand with you and for you. We are listening, seeking and sharing our stories that lead to action.
*The Cotton Avenue monument was erected in 1879 in honor of fallen soldiers. The Women of the South monument on Poplar Street was erected in 1911 in honor of women who cared for soldiers and children during the Civil War.